Family Friday. Mother Duck said Quack Quack Come Back

In my blogs recently I have been talking about birds. I get inspiration from them. Jesus told us to look at the Birds.  A good plug for going bird watching. I know a friend who was heart broken after her husband left her.  Part of her therapy to recover was to go bird watching.  She joined a local Bird Watching Club.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  Matthew 6 v 25-27 NLT
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭33‬ NLT)

One of my sons has finished his training in Law.  He is home for the holidays.  I was urging him to return to Scotland after the holidays and apply for trainee jobs to get him to the next stage.  Getting a job is so competitive.  In my mother role I was getting annoyed and worried.  Scriptures say worry is a sin and I don’t want to sin.  So I have to stop worrying and pray.

After a good nights sleep my mind is changed.  I have to let my son decide for himself and not conimagetrol him.  I have to let him go.  I can advise but it is up to him what he does.  It was by making mistakes and suffering I learned about life and the right choices to make.  I cannot go back to seven years ago when I developed cancer.  I have to stay alive.

Part of the role of parents is to look after the children but then to let them go to start their own lives.  Around the time I developed  cancer,  I was finding it hard to cope with the lose in my life of children leaving home.  My heart was breaking.  I was suffering in silence.

My daughter shared a post with me. She is in Kenya at the moment. It is about a little girl singing the nursery rhyme,
Mother Duck and her little ones. As she finishes the rhyme she starts to cry. She must have been sad for the mother duck left alone.

Five little ducks went out one day
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said “Quack, quack, quack, quack”
But only four little ducks came back.

Until
One little duck went out one day…
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said “Quack, quack, quack, quack”
But none of the five little ducks came back

The internet says it is a nursery rhyme that teaches children to count backwards.  That may be so but the writer of this work had something else in mind I believe.

As children leave home one by one a mother feels the pain of her lose.  The mother and children spend time together when the children are young.  They go out to play together.  Then a day comes when one grows up and has to leave to go over the hills and far away.  Nowadays hills don’t just separate us . Oceans wide and deep separate us.

One by one the ducks go far away.  This has been so for me and my children.  My last little duck left two years ago.  My heart would have been broken if The Lord has not comforted me and healed me.  He has given me other work to do after rearing my children.

There is hope.  The last verse of the nursery rhyme goes,

Sad mother duck went out one day
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said “QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!”
And all of the five little ducks came back.

I think of a verse from the scriptures often.

This is what The Lord says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return.” (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭31‬:‭15-16‬ NIV)

Don’t cry mothers out there.  The Lord will reward your work. Like mother duck the young will return.

Testimony Tuesday. Norming and Storming Brings Unity.

In earlier years some children left home for university and others were still at home.  At holiday times those at university would return home to Ireland with their luggage.  They would have to find a spare bed or share with others for the duration of the holidays.  We all had to adjust to being in close proximity again.

When children leave they have more space in their new surroundings.  So returning to a confined space stretched their patience and they had to sacrifice their own comfort.  They usually were stressed out after exams at university and tired after all the activity student life demands.  They would crash in bed and sleep late.

I had other expectations.   I looked forward to their company and some help to give me a break from working in the home.  Instead I had more work to do, more cooking and shopping.  Home was somewhere for them to get their batteries recharged.  My batteries were running out.

In my dilemma I would get frustrated with the children and made demands they were not able to meet.  Children would get frustrated with each other and disputes would have to be settled.  All this was too much for me.  I would call on my husband to talk to any child  who was misbehaving and settle disputes between me and the children, or between each other.

Brendan had his work cut out.  He called these times “Norming and Storming.”  The children were disciplined and reconciled.  Often I felt disciplined when I had to be reconciled to my own children.  The father has the ability to do this for his family.  He can bring unity.  While living together as a big family we had to get on with each other and forgive each other.  We had to go through the process each time we were together.

Despite all the Norming and Storming at the beginning, holidays always turned out to be refreshing times when we could spend time together at meals and at play.  My husband and I were stretched at these times.  When everyone left we needed to take a break ourselves to forget about our troubles and spend time together.

When any group of people get together to do a task, they have to take time to know one another.  Each one’s skills and gifts are needed in the Christian life to help each other.  I needed others to help me get healed.  Someone with the gift of healing helped, another with the gift of prophecy encouraged, a deliverer, the doctors, nurses, family and friends were all needed to love me back to health.  God works through people.  We are his hands and feet.  That is why it is important to get on with each other and forgive each other.

We make up the Body of Christ.  Where brothers dwell together in unity The Lord commands a blessing.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” (‭Psalm‬ ‭133‬:‭1, 3‬ NIV)

Marvelous Monday. Fly like an Eagle

On our recent visit to British Columbia, a friend of ours brought us to an area where eagles gathered.  It was marvelous to watch the magnificent birds close up as thimageey perched in the trees or flew overhead.  We spent the whole afternoon with our heads looking up and taking pictures of eagles.  I took this photo with my humble i Pad.

Recently my husband was telling a story to his grandchildren, just as he told his children in the past.

He was telling about the farmer who found an egg in the farmyard.  He put it under one of his hens who was brooding over her eggs.  Eventually the egg hatched and the bird grew.  It became bigger than the other chicks.  It had gangly legs, a big beak and sharp claws.  It had only one friend in the farmyard.

It looked up in the sky one day and saw a beautiful bird soaring high.  He asked his friend what kind of a bird is that.  He told him that is an eagle.  It flies all over the sky travelling miles and miles.  It is the king of the birds.  We are not like that.  The awkward bird was a young eagle.  It lived and died as a chicken.  It never got to fly with the eagles.

Brendan encouraged us to fly high like the eagle and do not be limited to the farmyard.  A friend who is staying with us at the moment explained the wings of an eagle represent praise and prayer in a believer’s life.  When we praise God and pray we rise above our circumstances and get free to soar on the wind wherever it takes us.

If you are in a difficult place right now, start praising God for his goodness and mercy.  Pray about whatever is troubling you and leave it with The Lord.  In no time you will feel lighter and not burdened by your impossible circumstances.  Trust God and fly high.  The answer will come.

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”(‭Isaiah‬ ‭40‬:‭31‬ NIV)

Sentimental Saturday. Left Behind.

Ten thousand visitors took to the country to Castle Ward, a National Trust property near where I live, on Easter Monday and Tuesday.  There were two ferries operating between Strangford and Portaferry to cope with the traffic.  I often wandered why there was an ice cream shop in Strangford.  Now I realise it is there to provide for the children who are waiting for the next ferry.  My own grandchildren had the extra delight of getting ice cream slushies as they waited for the ferry.  Delicious.

In an article in a Belfast newspaper there is a story about an one arm teddy bear that got left behind at Castle Ward.  Some little child would be missing his cuddly toy that night.  I hope teddy and child will be reunited.

Over the past week some of my own children and grandchildren came to visit to celebrate Easter and my fifth year anniversary free from cancer.  Bedrooms were overflowing with people, like the luggage hanging out of suitcases.  I had to make sure there was plenty of hot water for all the showers going.  Hair dryers were buzzing.
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The fridges were full, the range at full heat, logs were gathered in, plenty of supply of toilet roll and tissue, the boiler timed for heat and hot water, and the dishwasher was spinning. The kitchen was full of activity as meals were prepared and ate. For a few nights it was like the old days when we would gather around the fire with Brendan telling stories, then prayers and bedtime, for old and young.

In the mornings I heard voices from the bedrooms. Sisters were talking and laughing as they caught up with each other’s news. Three of them did a workout in the morning sun. Four children were tempted to take a swim in lough below. In the afternoon some collapsed on the lawn with heads together chatting and enjoying the warmth of the sun.

One of my girls had the flu when she returned.  With love, rest and prayer she recovered and headed off to Kenya for work on Tuesday.  Some of my grandchildren had tummy upsets and chills.  One of them went to the doctor.  He could find no infection.  Praise The Lord it was a demonstration of God healing her.  She had a smile on her face when she returned.  Mum and child had no need to worry.  Grand Da’s home is a place of refuge and healing from the storms of life.

All the grandchildren left today.  The house is silent.  The fridges are empty, only ashes in the fireplace, the dishwasher and hair dryers are quiet.  The bin is full of empty Easter egg packages and drink bottles. Bedcovers are tossled on empty beds.  Damp towels are left on the floors.

I had a relaxing bath and went to bed early trying to cope with the emotion of it all.  I awoke in the middle of the night to get a cup of tea.  Brendan joined me.  We are together again, just the two of us.
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A children’s I Pad, some Easter eggs and vases of colorful tulips are left behind.  On the floor a toy donkey was lying with its leg over his head.  Perhaps it was wiping away his tears at missing the children.  A toy bird lay on the table.  There was no more screaming laughter from Grand Da’s antics with the puppet bird.  A bunny rabbit sat forlorn with a toenail broken.  I can understand where the inspiration for Toy Story came from.

But I have lots of love and memories in our hearts.  And I have clean carpets and a new Hoover.  My daughter could see the dust.  The dust and the grandchildren have gone.  They will return.

Family Friday. Confusion with Airports and Flights

Brendan and I were visiting our daughter in Edinburgh in July of 2012.   She and her husband had just returned to live in Scotland from Switzerland.  We had flown with Easyjet to Edinburgh from Belfast International Airport.  We were happy to see Ruth and Stuart again after she had settled into her new accomodation.  It was nice to relax and catch up with them.  Brendan needed a longer break so I suggested he stay on for a few days.  

I arranged to pick him up on his return.  I headed off to Belfast International Airport in good time.  In Belfast the traffic was held up.  It was the Twelfth of July and there were Orange Band parades through Belfast.  I had to wait while all the parade passed.  I got anxious that I would be late getting to the airport.  After an impatient delay I eventually was able to be on my way.  I reckoned I would get there on time.

When I arrived in the airport carpark I got a call from Brendan.  He was outside the front entrance waiting for me.  I told him okay,  I was just parking and would meet without further delay.  I walked over to the entrance but Brendan was nowhere to be seen.  I called him on my mobile phone.  He kept explaining he was at the entrance to the airport.  I was perplexed.  He was nowhere to be seen.  I got more exasperated.  He got more annoyed at the other end of the phone.  

Then it dawned on both of us.  I went to the wrong airport to pick him up.  He had arrived into Belfast City Airport on Flybe.  He had changed from  Easyjet to Flybe to get home.  We were both upset with each other.  He suggested he would get the bus home.  I said ” Go ahead. You may get home before I do.”  

I drove off in the car still upset.  After a short time I settled down and called Brendan and said I would pick him up on the way through Belfast.  We decided to forget about the misunderstanding of not going to the right airport.  From then on I make sure I check which airport I am to go to if I have to pick someone up.  Once bitten, twice shy.

We were returning from Canada recently.  We had to get an inland flight from Vancouver to Toronto.  We arrived at the airport in good time to get checked in.  We stood in line at the Westjet desk waiting to check in our baggage.  There were quite a few passengers ahead of us.  When we gave the attendant our tickets she said “I am sorry sir you are flying with Air Canada and pointed us in the direction of the check in desk.”  We had wasted precious time at the wrong desk.  

I asked an attendant could we skip the queue because our flight was leaving soon.  She said,”I’m sorry Madam, the desk is closed.  You are too late to check in.”   We are going to miss this flight and the next connection to Ireland from Toronto!  I ran up to the desk and asked could someone help me.  Thank God a lady helped us.  She opened her desk again and checked our luggage through.  She even gave us a ticket to fast track the security gate.   Phew.  That was a close call.  

We had a very pleasant flight with Air Canada to Toronto.  I was so stressed, I hadn’t realised we had taken off and were airborne.  I was so thankful to God we did not miss the flight home.  God promises me I am under his daily care so I don’t need to fear.

Psalm 71:15. I cannot count the times when you have faithfully rescued me from danger. I will tell everyone how good you are, and of your constant, daily care.

Tableaux Thursday . A Black Bird Blocks the Fire

The scripture says “Look to the birds of the air.”

I love bird watching.  I have found them in different habitats near and far.  I viewed them in my garden, at the beach, in the forest or in far flung places of British Columbia where I saw many bald eagles.  I have learnt about blackbirds, magpies, wrens, finches, thrushes, tits, robins, jackdaws, pigeons, doves, swallows, starlings, sparrows just bird watching in my garden.  On the Loughshore I see Canadian Brent geese, blacked backed gulls, fulmars, swans, and many sand digging birds.  I have seen buzzards, crows, hawks and pheasants in the open country.  

This is the season when birds are building their nests to have their young.  Blackbirds and pigeons are nesting in the ivy growing over the empty cow shed.
But one bird caught my attention this morning.  I looked out my back window to see a crow with a heavy twig in its mouth.  I admired it for its skill in collecting twigs to build its nest.  There are tall trees nearby suitable for a crow’s nest.  I watched to see where it was building its nest, expecting it to fly off in the direction of the trees.  Surprisingly it flew over in the direction of my chimney.  Oh no.  Not the chimney of the fire I want to light in the big room when people visit!   I had lit it last week but noticed it wasn’t on fire as it should have been.  

I went outside to investigate.  I looked up to see the chimney was covered with wire to stop any birds entering.  Out comes a black bird through the mesh with the twig left behind.  How was it able to navigate through a hole in the mesh with a twig in its mouth? 
It was determined to occupy my chimney.

I went inside to my living room and lit some paper in the fire place to smoke the bird out.  Too late, its nest has already blocked the top of the chimney.  The birds can built their nests anywhere but not in my house.  They have places to live and this is my place to live.  

I cleared another chimney of a crow’s nest before Christmas.  I wanted to make a log fire, so often prortrayed on happy family scenes on Christmas cards.  How often do you see an open fire? Family and friends have enjoyed many happy evenings around our fireplace since.

The Holy Spirit is referred to fire.  When the disciples were in the upper room tongues of fire settled on their heads.   

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (‭Acts‬ ‭2‬:‭1-4‬ NIV)

Do not put out the fire of the Holy Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt (‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5‬:‭19-20‬ NIV)

The black bird, crow, can symbolise some power trying to block the fire of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I do not want any obstacle stopping the Holy Spirit in my life.  I will get this chimney cleared from twigs and put a wire at the top to prevent the bird returning.  I will be able to light the fire again in my fireplace and give warmth to visitors.  I will make sure nothing with stop the fire of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Testimony Tuesday, Do All You Can to Get Healed

A friend of my husband called him when he heard I had cancer.  He told him “Do all you can to get your wife healed.”

I was doing what the doctor’s were telling me.  People were praying for me.  I was confessing my sins as God showed me my heart condition of bitterness, unforgiveness, pride, independence, selfish ambition and rebellion.  My husband layed his hands on me as the scriptures and they will get well. Was there anything else I could do?
In James In the bible there is a verse which says.

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (‭James‬ ‭5‬:‭14-16‬ NIV)

My neighbour came to visit me one day many years before I was sick.  She told me a bit of her life story.  Her mother died when she was fifteen leaving her the eldest child, to help her father with the rest of her family.  When she was eighteen she contracted TB.  She had to lie in hospital for months.  A minister came to her bedside one day.  He said,”I am going to anoint you with Oil.  In the Church there is a prayer said for the dying called the Anointing with Chrism.”
The minister continued “This prayer is said for the dying but I am going to pray for you to live.”  He prayed for her according to James.  She recovered from TB and was restored to her father and family.  She continued dutifully to help at home.  Some years later she fell ill again with TB and was confined to hospital.

One night an angel appeared to her and reminded her of her previous healing.  He told her to believe God can heal her again.  God had compassion on this girl who looked after her motherless siblings.   She was healed a second time.  She later got married and had children of her own.

My sister came to see me and offered to take me to a healing service being held in Clonard Monastery during a retreat.  I went along with her.  Ministers moved among the crowd and anointed each one with oil, according to the passage in James 5.  I received all the help I could get to be healed.  I believe the word of God and choose to obey it.  I received the blessing from this minister.

After I was healed of cancer others in my local town heard about it.  One lady in her seventies came up to me after church on Sunday and told me her story.  When she was thirty six she had cancer.  The doctors could do nothing for her.  She was sent home from hospital.  She prayed to God and asked him to let her live to rear her children.  God answered her prayer.  She has lived to see her children’s children.

As I tell my story of God’s healing, it gives others courage to speak up and tell what God has done for them.  Tell others what The Lord has done for you.